Review: Judge Dredd – Judge Child Saga / Author: John Wagner, Alan Grant / Artist: Brian Bolland, Mick McMahon, Ron Smith/ Publisher : 2000AD Graphic Novels / Release Date: March 14th
One of the problems of a series that consistently improves in quality and scope is that instalments that once seemed fantastic pale in comparison to what came later. A good example of this is Judge Dredd: Judge Child – a classic 2000AD story that first came out in 1980 and that has now been re-released in paperback format.
The plot involves Dredd going once again into the Cursed Earth to seek the Judge Child, a mutant with an Eagle of Justice birthmark upon his head. The city’s greatest pre-cog predicts that the boy will play a crucial role in the future of Mega-City One, hence the manhunt. The quest leads Dredd into space, and we get to see the greater galaxy that Dredd and his colleagues inhabit. Sadly, the strangeness of space is not that much different from the oddness of the cursed Earth. Perhaps in the last 33 years we have come to expect more from space exploration adventures.
Judge Dredd: Judge Child is a decent tale told in a decent way. However, there are better examples out there, and though this adventure lays some of the ground work, it isn’t as iconic or as memorable as stories of a similar vintage; the initial Judge Death epic is more creepy and The Cursed Earth is a better quest with more weirdness. Judge Child does introduce some great characters; both Judge Hershey and Mean Machine Angel get their debut’s here, as well as weird alien sorcerer Murd the Oppressor. It all feels like a trial run for better stories to come, and is something of an average entry in the long list of Dredd's exploits.
All the artwork is of a great standard; both Mick McMahon and Ron Smith do justice to the look and feel of Dredd’s world, and Brian Bolland’s work stands out as always. Sadly the paperback format doesn’t help display these images. It’s a little on the small side, and detail seems to be lost in the resizing. Though it’s clear that every effort has been made to fit as much as they can on each page, the size of the artwork simply doesn’t quite work with the format of the book, which is a bit disappointing. Still, this is a nice but basic fix for those eager to catch up on the entire Dredd series but don’t have the shelf space for bigger books.